America Roadtrip Part 4: Los Angeles, a set on Flickr.
From Santa Barbara, it was on to LA. Having been to LA before and not particularly liked it, I wasn’t surprised to find that my opinion hadn’t changed. It’s simply so large – there’s no cohesive feel to it and neighbourhood’s merge into one another without anyone noticing. That’s how I felt anyway, though I realise I was there for less than a week and it may be that if I was there for longer, or saw more of it, I’d feel differently.
Chilling Out in Central Perk
On our first morning, we did the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, which was well worth doing. You see the backlot, where street scenes are filmed and our guide pointed out sections used in everything from Friends to the upside down kiss in Spiderman. We went through the transport museum, which had every Batmobile and saw the main museum with props and costumes from various Warner Brothers productions (including the recent Batman films and a whole floor dedicated to the Harry Potter films). We also got to look around the set of The Mentalist while the guide (who was excellent and clearly loved his job) explained various tricks of the trade. The highlight of it was when we got to see the Central Perk set from Friends. They are trying to preserve it for posterity but our guide was kind enough to let us sit on the sofa for a group shot!
That afternoon we went to Hollywood to look at the Walk of Fame and Graumann’s Chinese Theatre. Later, we drove into the hills to find the Hollywood sign, only to find that they don’t light it up at night anymore.
Surfing With Dolphins
The following day two of the group headed to Disneyland while the rest of us went to Manhattan Beach aiming to surf. There were loads of surfers in the water but to our surprise, nowhere renting equipment. We asked a number of people with no luck before eventually deciding to ask the lifeguard instead of giving up. He pointed us to a shop where we were able to get boards and wetsuits.
I’ve surfed a few times before but I’m by no means good at it. I stood up on the first wave then failed miserably on every other wave I caught! At one point I heard my friend shout “Dolphins!” and looked over to see two fins swimming about 15 metres away. It was a magic moment but I just hope they were dolphins, not sharks!
Out On The Edge At Venice Beach
The next day the group split in two, with some going to Long Beach and some to Santa Monica. I went to Santa Monica and explored the pier. I’m not really a beach person so instead of lying on the beach I hired a bike and rode it the few miles to Venice Beach. It’s a strange place – it seems to think it’s a bit more edgy and out there than it really is. I watched the skateboarders at the skate park and the graffiti artists who were (perfectly legally) covering everything in one small area with colourful designs.
Upside Down, All Around and Everything In-Between
The next day we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park. More by luck than judgement, we’d chosen the perfect day. Spring Break had just finished, the weather wasn’t anything to write home about and it was a Monday. This combination meant queuing for no longer than about 5 minutes for any ride, and usually less than that. This particular Six Flags has the most rollercoasters of any theme park in the world (13, I believe) and we did all of them. Many of them we did twice. That was a very fun day!
Hollywood Hills and Leaving LA
After a night’s sleep it was time to leave LA. We still hadn’t been to see the Hollywood Sign so we took a detour to the Griffith Observatory. (Actually, in LA nowhere is a detour because it takes so long to get anywhere, but you know what I mean.) This is right up in the Hollywood Hills with great views over the city and really gives you a sense of how sprawling and enormous LA is.
From there we drove through West Hollywood and on to Beverly Hills before arriving at our destination in Burbank – a shop called It’s A Wrap. They sell used items from the costume departments of various tv programmes and films. Some of these I’d never heard of, but a friend bought a t-shirt from House, so some are well-known.
Retail therapy completed, it was time to head out into the desert for the drive to Las Vegas and the final stage of the holiday.